VW rejects EU push to do more than fix tainted cars

Berlin - Volkswagen rejected an effort by European Justice and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Vera Jourova to gain compensation for the roughly 8.5 million owners of rigged diesel cars in the region, saying its vehicle fixes are sufficient.

Unlike in the US, repairs have been approved by regulators for most of the tainted vehicles, Volkswagen said in a September 7 letter to Jourova obtained by Bloomberg. The German carmaker is paying for the recall and confirming to customers that the changes don’t affect fuel consumption, acceleration and engine noise.

“We therefore believe there is no room or need for additional compensation,” said the letter, which is signed by Thomas Steg, head of public affairs and sustainability at Volkswagen. The information was reported earlier by Die Welt.

Volkswagen’s cheating on tests for smog-causing emissions has reverberated across the globe since it erupted a year ago. After agreeing to a generous compensation settlement in the US, including buying back the rigged cars, Jourova has sought to pressure the company to give payouts to affected European customers.

On Friday, she met with 31 consumer groups to discuss the case.

“I want to ensure consumers get a fair treatment,” Jourova said in a statement. “This was an important first step and this cooperation will continue. I will discuss this with the Volkswagen group and with enforcement authorities.”

European consumers have several disadvantages compared with their US counterparts. The EU isn’t allowed to make Volkswagen pay damages.

With the UK’s exit from the region looming, it’s unlikely the member states will transfer more powers to Brussels. The lack of Europewide class-action lawsuits is another major setback. There are few mechanisms to bundle complaints, and most people have to file individual claims in local courts, undermining their leverage in negotiations with VW.

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